Bill to support Speedway with state taxes passes committee

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The Indiana Senate Appropriations Committee this morning unanimously passed a bill that would capture state tax money generated at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and give it back to the track to improve the facility.

The bill would create a special taxing district to capture state sales, income and corporate taxes generated from the track and surrounding land owned by IMS. It passed in the committee by an 11-0 vote, and will be heard by the full Senate next week before making its way through the House.

The plan would fund up to $100 million in improvements at the track. The bill would tap $5 million a year in tax collections to pay off bonds over 20 years, with the Speedway paying about $2 million a year.

If the measure is signed into law, the Indiana Finance Authority will oversee the distribution of funds to the Speedway.

“I’ve reached the conclusion in my own mind … this is an investment that will be profitable to the state,” said Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville.

Kenley pointed out that IMS would not receive the full $5 million annually if that much is not generated in state taxes from the venue. He emphasized that the deal will push the Speedway to grow its business to maximize the incentive.

Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles and IMS CEO Jeff Belskus attended the hearing to explain why taxpayer assistance is needed.

Miles and Belskus said competition from tracks in other states has increased dramatically over the last decade, emphasizing that many of the tracks, including venues in Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Kentucky, are the beneficiaries of tax dollars to help support maintenance and operations.

At this morning’s hearing, Belskus said the Speedway actually plans $120 million in capital improvements, and that some of those efforts will be rolled out this spring.

The bill had wide support from lawmakers in Thursday's hearing, with many speaking fondly of childhood memories at the Speedway, and several noting how much IMS has meant and still means to Indianapolis’ and Indiana’s global brand image.

In addition, Sen. Mike Young, a Republican whose district includes Speedway, pointed out the enormous economic impact the 104-year-old facility has on Indianapolis and the entire state. He also said that no property taxes will be given to IMS, so the measure would not affect local school funding.

Miles noted that the motorsports industry—of which the Speedway is a big part—has a $510 million economic impact on the state.


  • FOIA
    Taxpayers should be allowed to look at the Speedway's books and determine where the mismanagement lies before turning over a dime to them.
    I've heard such dire predictions from the thought-challenged since I started going in 1959, and in earnest since the CART boycott that began in 1996. And every single year the howling critics get proven incorrect again. Yet no one can give me a date when this collapse will occur. I keep thinking evolution of the hater species will kick in, or at the very least minimal intelligence. Guess we will have to keep waiting. LOL.
  • Tick tock
    History as a teacher: There are enough seats on W 16th for every single Indy Car fan in America. In a few years, there will be two seats for every Indy Car fan left in America. Outside of the Midwest, this race isn't even on anyone's radar. It's not even close to what it used to be. Now it's just another welfare queen. Pretty soon, it will be nothing at all.
  • Tax breaks for the wealthy baby!
    I've lived a lot of places. Never have I seen politicians so bought and owned, so insecure and arrogant at the same time, as right here in Bug Tussel. Every time I eat out, I pay for Irsay's playpen. Now, I get whacked again in Speedway the town. There's an easy solution that my leaders don't quite get. I don't eat out like I used to. I will no longer buy anything in Speedway for the same reason. If you own a business in the STD, sorry, but you just lost my business. Don't blame me. Blame your corrupt legislator who gives my money to billionaires.
  • Scoreboard
    Aye: 11; Nay: 0. Slam Dunk.
  • The Founding Fathers
    can only be looking upon us with immense pride. How could they, when risking lives and fortunes to found our Republic, have imagined the glorious extent to which our government has involved itself in the sports entertainment business. It's enough to make a patriot burst with pride. Long live the Republican Party!
  • Tax free
    Essentially, all this is doing is making IMS a tax exempt facility. I see nothing wrong with the bill to that end. It does, however, reveal the old facility out there is not in teh best financial shape, as has been assumed for some time. Also, Indy style racing and even NASCAR are in decline. It could go badly. We'll see. There has been rumor that facility is either for sale or tagged for eventual redevelopment.
  • The Answer
    Mr. Green. Terry is 100% correct. Sometimes the simple answer is the correct one. This giving our tax dollars to millionaire or billionaire sports owners needs to end.
  • Banana Republic
    The answer to why average Joe Citizen has to take his Hard Earned Tax Dollars and allow CORRUPT POLITICIANS TO STEAL IS BECAUSE THESE POLITICIANS ARE CORRUPT BY NATURE. That is why they are drawn into public service ( cough, cough ). Today citizens of Indiana are involved with Ponzi type politicians who have made the citizens debt laden. In Marion County millions of this debt is sitting in The Airport Authority who soon will not be able to cover the bond debt used to build the unnecessary airport which sees less traffic than the old Weir Cook Airport. The CIB is bloated with debt used for the interest of a few CONNECTED PEEPS to politicians. Real Estate all over Marion County has been taken of the tax roles and PLACED IN CORRUPT TIFS to serve political croneys. Now they want give Millions to another private business -IMS. Soon they will corruptly strike again with the SCAM MASS TRANSIT TAX RAPING OF TAXPAYERS.
  • History as a Teacher
    Every year, especially since 1996, a few people crow about the 'end of the sport' and other such 'sky is falling' prognostication. Then every year all such yelping is silenced when hundreds of thousands of people file into the facility. It was here before any of us were, and it will be there after we're all gone. Learn from history. In 1945 many people were certain it was the end, but look what happened. Private companies are not required to open their books to outsiders. But do the math. It would be fairly easy to get to revenue, and we have better insight now on expenses. If the Hulman-George family stops making money they would probably sell it. But do not count on it.
    • Are you sure
      Are you sure that there is a future in Indy car racing? Maybe NASCAR but they are experiencing a tremendous financial downfall. How many races a year are held at the Speedway? Is the facility used 80% of the time?
    • $100M Taxpayer Subsidy for IMS Keeps Public in Dark
      An interview on WIBC states IMS will not disclose its finances as part of this sweetheart deal leaving taxpayers & bond holders in the dark. http://m.wibc.com/mobile/page/news/channel-1-1888251 Additionally while politicians tell us grand plans for the money, the proposed bill allows IMS to payoff OLD debt with the proceeds and demands that no mortgage or lien can be placed on the $100M bailout leaving taxpayers unsecured in case of default. Section 18 at end of bill http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2013/SB/SB0091.1.html Lastly why are we giving them a $100M bailout when the current market value of all the IMS property is only $89M according to Indy Star review of property tax records? While this deal deserves serious consideration, our politicians are not being truthful and good stewards of our money to insure we get the promised return on investment.
    • Great News
      As a property owner in that part of town I am 100% behind this gentrification effort, and also understand the large capital requirements required to bring the 100+ year old facility up to 2013 ADA standards makes this step particularly necessary. There is very little risk for the state, which should gain a profit. This, combined with the ongoing initiatives in Speedway, bode well for the future.
    • Billionaire Welfare?
      How many billions is the Hulman-George family worth? I am shocked they would expect taxpayers to help subsidize the IMS. Please explain to me why tax dollars that would otherwise go into state coffers and offset the burden to the rest of us is being diverted to improve the IMS. Sen. Kenley, who, of course, is in favor of anything favoring the wealthy, defends this by claiming that it will allow the Speedway to "grow its business" (a Mitch Daniels catch phrase). Is the Senator aware of the fact that the Speedway has steadily lost prestige as a facility over the years, due to declining interest in open-wheel racing? Is he aware of the impact of NASCAR and the limitations of the IMS facility for a NASCAR race? This is not a situation in which this type of arrangement will attract a new business to an economically-depressed area. The Hulman-Georges would much rather spend taxpayer money than their own. It's just wrong.
    • Big Picture
      C'mon Terry, you're being a bit simplistic. Read the piece again. Think real hard. Report back.
      • Laughter
        You must be kidding! So the job of Indiana Taxpayers is to support the wealth of those involved with IMS. We can spend millions on the speedway but assistance for average Hoosiers is out of the question. Are there any adults in the State House?

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      1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

      2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

      3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

      4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

      5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim